sign reading "goodbye friends" left on a conference room table
PHOTO: Jan Tinneberg

Major companies around the world have recently removed the CMO title — McDonald’s global CMO left in June, and a similar change took place at Uber and Johnson & Johnson that same month. What does this mean? Is the CMO role doomed?

Certainly not. It’s just getting an upgrade.

The marketing industry has seen major disruption in recent years, primarily due to the sharp rise in the number of martech solutions available. Many see this as a challenge, with nearly 70% of US marketers reporting they believe technology has made it harder, not easier, to offer customers personalized experiences, according to a survey my firm, Acquia, conducted earlier this year. 

The truth is digital transformation has created more opportunity and value for marketers than ever before. With the ability to directly analyze consumer behavior, track marketing spend and measure performance, marketers have all the data they need to offer consumers the relevant digital experiences they expect and deserve.

Many marketers enter the industry because of their ability to think creatively and take action. But the modern marketer must have both creative inspiration and tech-supported insight to create campaigns that design better customer experiences. The easiest way to do that is to use your metrics to make data-driven analyses that drive informed and proactive business decisions.

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Lead With a Data-Driven Mindset

With nearly 7,000 martech solutions available today, marketers have access to all the listening tools, analytics dashboards and digital channels in the world. But if they don’t understand how the data from that technology contributes to the consumer journey, then the data becomes a burden rather than an advantage.

To draw the right conclusions about your users, you must step back and listen to what your audience is telling you. Beyond those early-stage touchpoints that get someone to the customer stage, marketers should also focus on the insight that goes beyond a one-time transaction and fosters long-term loyalty. Data can show how customers continue to communicate with your brand so you can establish meaningful two-way communication. The future of the CMO is becoming more and more tied to financial accountability, and customer retention is critical in demonstrating the ROI of your marketing objectives.

Related Article: Why Are Companies Investing in Customer Retention?

Align Marketing and IT Department Goals

Most marketing departments now include data strategists and analysts. One way to encourage collaboration between your organization's developers and marketers is to align the goals and objectives of the marketing and IT departments. IT owns the platforms and tools that conduct data analysis, and that data is required to drive marketing decisions to build the brand. To bridge the gap, encourage IT to participate in customer journey mapping to ensure that marketing aligns with the data that has been gathered about the audience. This should be a fairly natural integration between CMO and CIO — as the CMO role has evolved to be more data-focused, the CIO role has changed too, focusing less on security operations and more on implementing systems that drive innovation and growth.

Even with marketing and IT collaboration in place, certain technology decisions should remain controlled by marketing. Marketing teams are now the leaders in martech buying decisions that drive company growth — according to Gartner, 16% of CMO budgets are allocated to innovation. With the right technology, marketers can turn information into action. And if customers feel as though you are learning from or listening to the data they share, they’ll stick around — and so will the CMO.

Related Article: Bridging the CMO-CIO Disconnect